Whose am I?

Who do I think I am, running a blog? After changing my major? While taking three STEM classes at once, AND joining a research lab? Who do I think I am, saying I’ve beaten depression and anxiety while tragedy after tragedy try to throw them back in my face? Who do I think I am, saying I’ve grown, saying I’ve been renewed?

Who am I?

Questions like these are just the tip of the introspection iceberg, and like a broken record,  my mind has been playing them over and over these last few months. When I look back at my writing, I can see that it often boils down to the who/what/when/where/why/how I am the way that I am, and I’ve come to realize that the answers lie in another question:

Whose am I?

You’d think this would be a pretty easy question to answer. Since my faith lies in Him, I’m a child of God! Since I’m letting Him use me, I’m a Vessel in the Valley! I can say who I am, but what does any of it mean? What does it look like?

How often do you stop to really think about your identity? Your purpose? We all want to know why we’re here, but what matters is where we find our answers. A recent performance reminded me why I look to the Word for mine.

 

Full transparency: I wasn’t sure if I’d be ready. I’d wanted to bring a  notebook on stage with me in case I forgot my words, but I ran out of my dorm without one. My backup plan was falling apart, so I took my phone on stage with me -just to forget it was there. I forgot a lot. I forgot the bad jokes I was gonna crack to calm myself down, forgot to hold my mic up during the second piece, forgot the inflections and pauses I’d spent so long practicing. I even forgot my words, so I made up lines to buy myself time (I’ve posted both pieces if you want to see what I meant to say!). Even with my forgetfulness, people were touched, and that’s all I could ask for. Still, I can’t help but feel like I could’ve done more.

I’m sure my college students feel me when I say performance can be paralyzing. If I don’t feel confident in my ability to do something, I probably won’t do it. A friend had reached out to me about performing for this event in January. Both poems were written before the end of February. So why didn’t I start rehearsing until I had less than a week left? Fear. From the beginning, I wondered worried about if my poems would be good enough, if I’d be able to memorize all my lines, if I could make it through the second piece without crying. I didn’t want to move forward if I didn’t have answers to these questions, so I had to fight doubt with the Truth. And it was hard. I’m sure my friends got sick of hearing me tear myself down while I questioned if God would continue to provide, to pour Himself into His broken vessel. Was I really made for this? Was I enough?

When I got on that stage and started to speak, it felt like water was flowing out of my mouth… for a little while.

22 ‘Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” 

Matthew 14:22-33 NASB

Imagine that moment when Peter took his eyes of Jesus and started to drown; that’s the best way I can describe how it felt to forget my lines. Peter saw the wind, but I saw the crowd. I saw the fact that I was on stage, with hundreds of people (hopefully) giving me their undivided attention. Who was I to be in this position? Whenever I began to forget, everything would become silent yet chaotic at the same time, and I would panic. The water I was walking on stopped sustaining me. When I felt myself losing my flow, I’d send out SOS signals that He always responded to. The words would come right back. But even then, God used what I saw as mistakes to add to my performance, bringing back the vulnerability that would’ve been lost if I’d just flowed through it all.

I’m involved in a lot of things, but poetry is the first thing I’ve had to accept as something people liked even though I’m the sole vessel for it. I’m fully responsible for it. This is my gift, so I carry it. I present it. All through His strength, obviously. But the response to it has continued to push me forward, so I thank everyone who’s proofread my pieces, or sat and listened to me practice, or congratulated me after a performance. I appreciate all of the feedback, positive and negative. Writing is just one of my outlets for my artistry, but I’m grateful for what God has given me. Everything I have comes from Him, because I am His. Everything I am is because of Who He is, because I am His.

I can’t keep running from my gift. I can’t sell myself short and say I’m not good enough, I’m not ready. I can’t let the dynamic duo of perfectionism and procrastination silence me into stagnancy. If my faith is in God, so is my trust. If I’m letting Him use me, it should be evident for anyone to see. I’ll write my journal entries, my poetry, and my blog posts, and I’ll share them. I will, because of who and Whose I am.

be blessed bbys ✨

Author: Iyaniwura Olarewaju

† | naija | nj | Cornell

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